Friday, March 6, 2009

But Not Unhappy Science Friday: Gender stereotypes and Mental Illness

Well, I have to say, I don't think this bodes well for us depressed people: a recent study conducted by researchers from Purdue and Northwestern University found that if you have stereotypical depression symptoms people are less likely to believe you.

Here's a quick rundown of the study:

"The psychologists decided to explore this provocative idea with a national survey. They had a group of volunteers from around the country, varying widely in age, education, and socioeconomic status, read a case history of a person with mental illness. Some read about Brian, who was a stereotypical alcoholic, while others read about Karen, who showed all the classical symptoms of major depression. Still others read switched-around versions of these cases, so that Karen was the one abusing alcohol and Brian was depressed. The idea was to see if the typicality of Brian and Karen's symptoms (or lack of it) shaped the volunteers' reactions and judgments.

And it did, without question. As reported in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the volunteers expressed more anger and disgust - and less sympathy - toward Brian the alcoholic than toward Karen the alcoholic, and vice versa for depression. They were also more willing to help Brian and Karen when they suffered from an atypical disorder. Most striking of all, the volunteers were much more likely to view Brian's depression (and Karen's alcoholism) as genuine biological disorders - rather than character defects or matters of personal irresponsibility."

So men reach for the Kleenex box and start refusing to get out of bed. Ladies, if you want help, it's time to get a little tipsy!


p.s. Thanks Charlotte for the tip! And thanks Jezebel for bringing this one to light.


Katie Langston said...

I KNEW I should've been drinking booze all these years!! ;)

Scary the things we do/think without even realizing it...thank you, social conditioning...

Mindy said...

Hi, Laura. :) I found your blog link on BreAna's. I hope you don't mind that I am wandering around on your blog. :) You're doing a great thing sharing all of this information with others. You will never know how much good you will do. Keep it up. :) (As if you wouldn't had I not made that comment!) ;)

Adventures in Heywood said...

I worked in an RTC for teen girls with emotional/mood disorders, it always annoyed me to no end when I would tell people what I did and they blamed the need for our facility on them being 'typical teen girls'. I got so sick of saying, 'i really think that's overly simplistic, there's more than that going on'. As if their parents felt overwhelmed because they shouted a lot and used all the hot water, and were 'blue' due to being dumped. Right, that's all that's going on(sarcasm). I guess these people should just feel happy they don't know the truth, they'd hate it.

Ashwaria said...

Gender stereotypes don’t come from us and aren’t validated by our actual experiences.If we don’t affirm the stereotype, where do they come from and why do we believe that they are true.

Cultural Myths